Den of Geek recently had the opportunity to speak with David Hayter, the writer, producer and actor whose first big break in the film industry came when he had the opportunity to work on the screenplay for X–Men. The 2000 Bryan Singer-directed superhero film celebrates its 20th anniversary this summer and arguably opened the doors for the era of superhero movies we’ve enjoyed since.
X-Men was made at a time before Marvel Studios existed as its own entity (later bought by Disney) and the Marvel Cinematic Universe was still eight years away from its blockbuster launch with Iron Man. During the previous years before Marvel Studios came into being, the comic book publisher had sold the rights to various properties to different film studios.
The X-Men, one of the biggest Marvel brands, ended up with 20th Century Fox. The series eventually spawned 13 films, including the still-unreleased The New Mutants, the last X-Men-related film produced by Fox before Disney bought the company in 2019.
Of course, that merger brought all the Fox-owned Marvel properties — including the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, the Silver Surfer and Deadpool — under the Marvel Studios umbrella at long last, with all those major characters certain to be rebooted (with the possible exception of Deadpool) in new MCU versions.
Asked if he had any ideas about how to introduce the X-Men — and the larger world of Marvel mutants — into the MCU, Hayter replies, “If I had any thoughts, I couldn’t say, because then they wouldn’t be worth doing anymore. Would I do it? Of course, I would.”
But Hayter added that he’s not waiting by the phone for a call from Marvel, despite his work on both the original X-Men and the acclaimed 2004 sequel, X2.
“I don’t expect that’s going to happen,” he says. “I would imagine if I were (Marvel Studios president) Kevin Feige, I’d say, ‘We need all new voices, and we need the current crop of Marvel creators to come in and do it.’ They probably actively want to separate from the Bryan Singer versions for a number of reasons. But if they asked me, I’ve made it clear to Kevin, I’ll work on any Marvel property. I’d do it for the rest of my life.”
Hayter actually worked side-by-side with Feige on X-Men, back when the latter was starting out as an assistant to producer Lauren Shuler-Donner. He reveals that the two got together not long ago for a meeting, but naturally he would not discuss what they met about — he characterizes it more as a casual get-together of two old friends and not a nuts-and-bolts business meeting. But Hayter emphasizes that Marvel remains close to his heart.
“I was so inspired by Stan Lee and his writing, his characters, his philosophy, that I would always do it,” says Hayter. “But I would be surprised if they brought me back on X-Men. I’d be thrilled. I mean, please, go for it, but I know how the world works.”
The question of how Marvel Studios will integrate the X-Men and the history of mutants into the MCU remains a source of great conjecture among fans. A semi-replacement for the mutants, in the form of the Inhumans, was floated by Marvel Television on both Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the short-lived Inhumans series, but didn’t last more than a season in both cases.
The likely scenario is that, once Marvel Studios is able to begin ramping up production on its Phase 4 slate of films again, small seeds and Easter eggs will start being planted to lay the groundwork for not just the arrival of the X-Men, but the Fantastic Four as well.
We can speculate further and guess that one or both teams will eventually cross paths with the Avengers, possibly in a major Phase 5 event. Meanwhile, stay tuned for more from David Hayter in the next few days as we look back 20 years at the origins, writing and production of that first X-Men movie.